Yorkshire’s only metro mayor says he will not be asking residents to pay an extra tax to fund major projects after taking a significant step towards reaching a long-awaited devolution deal.
Sheffield City Region mayor Dan Jarvis and council leaders yesterday approved plans for a public consultation into its £30m-a-year-devolution deal which could see it signed into law in June.
The deal with the Government could see a transfer of powers and funding to South Yorkshire which would include a deputy mayor, extra powers on public transport and the ability to keep 100 per cent of business rates.
But Mr Jarvis told The Yorkshire Post that he would not be following the example of metro mayors in Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City Region by imposing a mayoral precept when the devolution deal is finally implemented.
Such a levy, which elsewhere is used to pay for the mayor's priorities, would be added to every residents' council tax bill and is described in a Sheffield City Region report as a means to meet costs not paid for by devolved funding from the Government.
But Mr Jarvis said: "I don't have any plans whatsoever to do what others have done and introduce a mayoral precept."
He said that while the extra powers and resources for his office were important, the biggest advantage of a devolution deal was a metro mayor's power to "develop an agenda which people can buy in and support."
He said: "So, no to a mayoral preset, that wasn't anything that I ever committed to in a manifesto and I think frankly, this is the sort of thing that would need to be in a manifesto, so I ain't doing it."
Mr Jarvis will also be able to have borrowing power in order to get more funds and be able to have a deputy mayor and a political adviser.
Government will introduce a pilot scheme in Sheffield City Region combined authority which will enable the area to retain 100 per cent of any additional business rate growth beyond expected forecasts. These pilots will begin, subject to further detailed discussions between the combined authority and Government.
Bosses say the mayoral combined authority ‘should have control’ over the consolidated devolved capital transport budget.
There will be full devolution of the adult skills budget which provides training for people over the age of 19 at colleges across the region.
Extra powers on housing are also being sought in order to ‘improve the supply and quality of housing’ to secure the ‘regeneration or development of land or infrastructure’.
The consultation will be launched on February 3 with the results to be reported in the week commencing April 13
Secretary of State Robert Jenrick will consider the report, before drawing up a draft order which will need to be agreed by Sheffield City Region leaders. If all goes well it will be laid before Parliament by June.
Rotherham Council leader Chris Read described the agreement as a "welcome, pragmatic step", while Mr Jarvis said it was a "hugely significant step forward".
The deal was agreed after years of wrangling between local leaders, following the breakdown of talks in 2017 when Doncaster and Barnsley rejected a deal in favour of a Yorkshire-wide arrangement.
The meeting comes at the start of a week when Ministers meet with leaders across Yorkshire in what Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry described as a "devolution dash".
With Prime Minister Boris Johnson publicly promising to 'level up' the country and hand more powers to metro mayors following his election success in the
North, hopes are high of progress after a lull in the devolution agenda during Theresa May's premiership.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said the agreement on devolution in South Yorkshire gives the region "a strong national voice bringing together local leaders and the business community and ensures the lives and experiences of people in this region will be heard".
Asked whether deals could be done with the rest of Yorkshire by the end of the year, he told The Yorkshire Post: "I am optimistic that we can do that.
"The Prime Minister has said he wants to see those parts of the country that not not had the benefits of devolution strike deals as quickly as possible. We are now going to be working at pace with other parts of the country including York and North Yorkshire and Hull and the East Riding."